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The Problem
Romans 3:21
United in Christ
The Power of the Gospel
The Old Man Is Dead
The Flesh
The Wages of Sin
Free from the Penalty
Our Life Before Christ
Romans 8:1-17
Romans 8:18-27
More Than Conquerors
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WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 7?

 

Are you the kind of reader who goes to a juicy sounding chapter---or in this case, straight to the appendix---rather than reading a book in the order in which it is presented?

          Well, if that’s you, I saw you coming and wrote this short study on your behalf.  I didn’t want you to be wondering about Romans 7---wondering if you can really live a holy life after all—while you worked your way through a book whose whole thrust is that you can live a holy life.  So go ahead and read this appendix now.  This way, you can get your questions answered up front.

          As for those who are reading this appendix after finishing the whole book (good for you!), this will help to solidify your thinking and reinforce your convictions all the more. 

          Let’s assume that you know that the Word of God consistently calls us to holiness, and let’s assume that you really do want to live a godly, clean life, free from the bondage of sin.  The problem is that you seem to have such a hard time walking in purity.  You are engaged in constant, intense warfare and find great difficulty in living a truly consecrated life.  And, you recall, it seems that Paul himself addressed this very issue, telling us that the things he wanted to do, he didn’t do, while the things he didn’t want to do, he did (see Rom. 7:14-25).  Doesn’t that describe our plight too?

          Are we really free from sin?  Have we truly died to it?  Why then does the battle rage with such ferocity in our souls?  What does the Word say, and what can we expect?

          These questions must be addressed, since there is little use in reading a book about holiness if you’re not convinced you can really live it out, if biblical teaching on sanctification is just a matter of ethereal, theological speculation and not a matter of concrete, attainable reality.  Obviously, we all agree that the Word clearly calls us to holiness, but our experience (and maybe Paul’s) seems to render our situation hopeless.

          So the real question is this: Does God require holiness from us---internally as well as externally---or is He resigned to the fact that we will consistently do the things we hate and fail to do the things we love?  Can we or can we not stop the practice of habitual sin?

          Before taking a careful look at Romans 7, let me give you a simple and logical principle of biblical interpretation.  If you have fifty clear passages that are in total harmony on a given subject and one somewhat unclear passage that apparently contradicts the other passages, you never throw out or negate the fifty for the one.  Either you interpret the single uncertain passage in light of the fifty certain passages, or you recognize a distinct, balancing aspect that the one passage offers the fifty.  In either case, the interpretation of the fifty clear passages remains the same.

          So, whatever you make of Romans 7---the one and only passage where Paul seems to speak about fighting a losing battle with sin and the flesh---you can’t dismiss the passages cited throughout this book (see Chapter Five, in particular), especially when you realize that Romans 7 is sandwiched between Romans 6 and 8, two of the clearest holiness passages in the Bible.  In fact, if you were to read through the entire New Testament and mark down all the verses that call us to put away sin and give ourselves to purity, you would find virtually every book and every author saying the same thing: “Get the sin out of your life!  Submit yourself to God.  Be holy.  Through the blood of Jesus, you can lead a new life.” 

          To give just the slightest hint at what you would discover in your study of the New Testament---and remember, this is just a tiny sampling from each book---in Matthew’s Gospel there is the Sermon on the Mount, where we learn that even thoughts of adultery or hatred are abominations in the sight of God (see Matt. 5:21-30).  In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus warns us not to let our eyes or hands lead us into sin, with hellfire the penalty for those who ignore the warning (see Mark 9:43-49).  In Luke’s Gospel, we read that if we don’t repent we will perish (see Luke 13:1-5), while in the Gospel of John, we are called to abandon our evil deeds and walk in the light (see John 3:16-21; 8:23,24).

          In Acts, sinners are rebuked---or even judged---on the spot (for example, Ananias and Sapphira in chapter 5, Simon the sorcerer in chapter 8, Herod in chapter 12, and Elymas the sorcerer in chapter 13), which in Romans, Paul tells the believers that the time for sinning is over (see Romans 13:11-14).  It’s the same throughout the remainder of the New Testament---Gospel after Gospel, epistle after epistle, right through the Book of Revelation.

          Now read through the New Testament again, one chapter at a time, and look for verses saying that, as believers, we are destined to lead anemic, compromised, defeated lives that will never measure up to the norm.  Where are the verses?

          You say, “But weren’t the Corinthians and Galatians rebuked by Paul because of sin or serious error in their midst?  And wasn’t that the case with five of the seven churches addressed by the Lord in Revelation 2 and 3?”  Absolutely!  But Paul and Jesus didn’t say, “I understand your sin.  No problem!  Just do a little better if you can, OK?”  Not at all.  There were stern rebukes and sharp ultimatums for these straying saints.  Such behavior is forbidden among the people of God.

          In fact, holy living was such a consistent, underlying theme in the early Church that Paul instructed the Corinthians to “not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man,” he wrote, “do not even eat” (1 Cor. 5:11).  Such persons, said Paul, are “wicked” (1 Cor. 5:13)---and unrepentant, wicked people have no place in the church.  There is simply no compromise here.

          That’s why Paul could dogmatically state:

 

“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9,10).

 

          On these verses, A.T. Robertson, the heralded Greek scholar commented with chilling insight:

 

All these will fall short of the kingdom of God.  This was plain talk to a city like Corinth.  It is needed today.  It is a solemn roll call of the damned even if some of their names are on the church roll in Corinth whether officers or ordinary members.

 

          “But wait!” you say.  “What about all the other verses, the ones that bring balance to the extreme position you have taken?  What about them?"

          Sit down, my friend, you’re in for a surprise.  Not only is the position you call “extreme” actually the biblical norm, but those “other” verses you refer to don’t exist!  Aside from 1 John 1:8-2:2, being with the words, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us,” which is found in the beginning of a radical holiness book and which does not give us license to sin, and Romans 7, which is sandwiched between two glorious holiness chapters and to which we will turn shortly, the verses simply aren’t there.  Go through the Word and see for yourself!

          Of course, you can point to Peter’s pre-Pentecostal denial of Jesus as an example of human weakness, but you certainly can’t point to Peter---crucified upside down for his Master, according to Church tradition---as an ongoing example of human failing.

          Or you can point to the apostle Thomas as an example of a disciple who doubted, but you certainly can’t point to him as an example of continual doubt and unbelief.  Tradition tells us he was speared to death in India for his testimony of Jesus!

          And you can point to David as a man after God’s own heart who blew it royally, but you certainly don’t want to emulate his example.  His adultery and murder cost him (along with future generations of Israel) untold agony and grief.  Do not follow David in his sin!

          Certainly, no one is denying that in ourselves we are hopelessly weak, that we are sometimes embarrassed by our words and deeds, that we are never completely and entirely “without sin.”  (If you think you are utterly sinless, you’re probably guilty of pride and self-righteousness, self-deception or all three!)  But the Word clearly teaches that we are not to be characterized by our weaknesses but by His strength, that the pattern of our lives should be obedience and not disobedience, that we should never again live as sin’s captives but rather as the Lord’s redeemed.  Simply stated, rather than giving us a cop-out for our sinful nature, Jesus provides us with a way out.

          You might say, “You’ve just stated the obvious.  We are called by God to live in holiness, but we often battle with the flesh and fall short.  Who doesn’t know this?”

          Ah, but it’s the attitude that is crucial.  Do you flee for refuge to Romans 7, finding an easy excuse for your all-too-persistent shortcomings and allowing yourself to accept your compromised condition as the expected status quo?  Or to the contrary, do you find that subnormal condition to be completely unacceptable, determining by the grace of God to rise higher, considering yourself dead to sin and alive only to the Lord?  What is your attitude in all this?

          A lot also depends on what you mean when you say, “We often battle the flesh and fall short.”  How often and how far short?  Do you mean to say that you “just can’t” keep your eyes off Internet pornography, or that looking at it “only” once a week is perfectly understandable?  Do you mean to say that God understands the affair you had, even though you’re a pastor?  (Or could it be that, because you’re a pastor, He knows how sorely Satan tempts you and how hard your lot is, making your sin even more understandable?)  Do you mean that He overlooks your daily temper tantrums with your toddlers as you slap them and scream at them, assuring them they’ll never amount to anything good?

          Or do you mean that everyone has their “little” vices---like Christian ladies reading worldly romance novels (and putting their own names right in the middle of an adulterous fantasy), or like Christian salespeople telling  “white lies” on their jobs, or like Christian teenagers fooling around sexually outside of wedlock?  Or are you referring to those minor, “gray” areas like smoking cigarettes or watching videos with graphic and gratuitous violence (but without nudity or profanity, of course, making it “acceptable” for believers)?  If so, you are sadly mistaken.  The Word commands us to abandon all this.  Failure to comply with the “house rules” carries serious ramifications.

          Listen again to the Scriptures.  Let’s hear from just one biblical author in one short book:

 

“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

          Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul…He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed.

          Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.  As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.  For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do---living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry” (1 Pet. 1:14-16; 2:11,24; 4:1-3).

 

          Yes, believers are to be armed with the attitude that says, “I’m done with sin!  That was part of my former way of life.  Now I live only to do the will of God.”  Peter’s teaching really sums it all up. 

          Peter also raises some issues regarding Romans 7, since the call to holiness in 1 Peter---in harmony with the rest of the Word—is absolutely clear, presupposing our ability in the Lord “to abstain from sinful desires.”  How then do we interpret Romans 7, which seems to say that we will also be slaves to sin in this life?  Let’s take a careful look at this much-disputed passage. 

          To get the immediate context, we’ll look again at Romans 6.  There Paul explains to the Roman believers that through baptism, they have identified with Jesus in His death to sin and His resurrection to a glorious new life.  These are a few of the expressions he uses:

 

“We died to sin…We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life…

          For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer  be slaves to sin---because anyone who has died has been freed from sin…

          For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him.  The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God” (from Rom. 6:2-10).

 

Based on these glorious truths, Paul gives some practical exhortations:

 

“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to Him as instruments of righteousness.

          For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:11-14).

 

          The issue, of course, is one of “servitude,” because “when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey---whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness” (Rom. 6:16).

          Peter referred to this too, quoting a common proverb of the day: “A man is a slave to whatever has mastered him” (2 Pet. 2:19).  Thankfully, the Romans had made their choice, and they were freed from the tyranny of sin.  Notice the italicized phrases:

 

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.  You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.  I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves.

          Just as you used to offer the parts of your body to slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness.  When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death!

          But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 6:17-23).

 

Any interpretation that still leaves the believer enslaved in sin is unacceptable.  Agreed?

 

Now we turn to Romans 7.  In the first six verses, Paul uses an analogy that describes the binding power of the law.  A woman, he explains, is bound to her husband by the law as long as he is alive, but when he dies, she is “released from the law of marriage” and is free to marry another.  But if she marries another man while her original husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress.  Paul then applies this to the Church: “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God” (Rom. 7:4). 

          What does this mean to the believers?  Again, the application is clear:

 

For when we were controlled by the sinful nature [literally, flesh], the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death.  But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code (Rom. 7:5,6).

 

          And notice the verbal tense here: We were controlled by the sinful nature [flesh], but now, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.  Everything has changed

          But there is a logical question that Paul raises, and it has to do with the nature of the law:

 

“What shall we say, then?  Is the law sin?  Certainly not!  Indeed I would not have known what sin was except through the law.  For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”  But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire.  For apart from law, sin is dead” (Rom. 7:7,8).

 

          And it is here that we arrive at the great interpretive dilemma of Romans 7:  What period of Paul’s life does he describe, his pre-conversion experience or his ongoing experience as a believer?  And does he speak only of himself, or does he speak of himself as a picture of “everyman”?  He writes:

 

“Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.  I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.  For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death” (Rom. 7:9-11).

 

          What does he mean when he says, “Once I was alive”?  If he is speaking of his experience before his glorious conversion, there is no real problem, since the rest of the chapter, in which he describes his deep frustration over his inability to conquer sin, does not apply to his experience as a new creation in Jesus the Messiah.  Therefore it does not apply to us as new creations in the Messiah (see 2 Cor. 5:17).

          But if he is speaking in the present tense, referring to his consistently defeated life as a Spirit-filled child of God, then all of us are in trouble. We can expect the same!

          How then do we understand these verses, and are there any other legitimate interpretations that take a “middle road”?  Let’s keep reading the text before we come to any conclusions:

 

“So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good.  Did that which is good, then, become death to me?  By no means!  But in order that sin might be recognized as sin, it produced death in me through what was good, so that through the commandment sin might become utterly sinful.

          We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.  I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.  I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature [flesh].  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.  For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do---this I keep on doing. 

          Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Rom. 7:12-20).

 

We see that Paul does speak in the present tense here, and all of us, on one level or another, can relate to his frustration.  (“For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.”)  All honest believers will admit that, at least sometimes, they think things, say things, or do things that violate their own convictions, while the things they truly believe in, they fail to do.  But how far does this go, and how consistent is this defeated pattern of behavior?

          Is it the rule, or is it the exception to the rule?  Is it the guiding principle of life, or a passionate expression of momentary disappointment?  Is it a picture of who we really are---always failing, always frustrated, always falling, always deviating from the path---or is it more like a picture of a man walking down the road with little dogs yapping at his heals?  He is going somewhere, he is moving forward, but there’s always something pulling at him and trying to distract him.  Which picture describes the biblical norm?

          In order to answer these difficult questions, let’s consider what we know for sure: First, Paul would not blatantly contradict what he just wrote in Romans 6 and in 7:1-6 (especially when you remember that there were no chapter divisions in the original text) or what he is about to write in Romans 8 (we’ll look at this in a moment) or what he clearly wrote elsewhere in his letters; therefore, it is impossible that Paul would speak of himself in his present standing in the Lord as “unspiritual [or fleshly, carnal], sold as a slave to sin” (v. 14).   This cannot be!

          Writing in the mid-1700s, John Wesley commented,

 

The character here assumed is that of a man, first ignorant of the law, then under it and sincerely, but ineffectually, striving to serve God.  To have spoke this of himself [i.e., Paul], or any true believer, would have been foreign to the whole scope of his discourse; nay, utterly contrary thereto, as well as to what is expressly asserted [in] Romans 8:2

 

Writing in the late 1900s, Prof. Douglas Moo, after carefully reviewing all the major interpretive options, stated even more fully,

 

In chapters 6 and 8 [of Romans], respectively, Paul makes it clear that “being free from under sin” and “being free from the law of sin and death” are conditions that are true for every Christian.  If one is a Christian, then these things are true; if one is not, then they are not true.  This means that the situation depicted in verses 14-25 [of Romans 7] cannot be that of the “normal” Christian [or Messianic believer in Yeshua], nor of an immature Christian.  Nor can it describe the condition of any person living by the law because the Christian [or Messianic believer in Yeshua] who is mistakenly living according to the law is yet a Christian and is therefore not “under sin” or “a prisoner of the law of sin.”  [Comment: the law he is talking about is obviously Torah, not the NT law of Christ.  editor]

         

          Paul had just gone to great lengths to remind the Romans they had died to sin, that they are no longer slaves to sin, and that they now had a new life in Jesus.  How then could he speak of himself as “sold as a slave to sin?”  Was Paul really a slave to sin?

          As for the term “unspiritual” (Greek sarkinos), Paul uses this word two other times in his epistles: in 1 Corinthians 3:1, where he rebukes the Corinthians for this unacceptable mode of behavior (“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly [sarkinos]---mere infants in Christ”), and again in 2 Corinthians 3:3, where it simply means “fleshly” as opposed to “stone” (see also Heb. 7:16, where it means “human, physical”).  Would Paul, the apostle to the Corinthians, rebuke them for acting like infants, calling them carnal [sarkinos], and then describe himself with the very same term?  Hardly!

          Also the conclusion to his discourse in Romans 7 raises some serious questions if Paul is speaking of our normal, ongoing experience in the Lord:

 

“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.  For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.  What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God---through Jesus Christ our Lord!  So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature [flesh] the law of sin (Rom. 7:21-25).

 

          Now take out your Bible and keep reading, right through Romans 8, right up to its glorious end, and then read on through Romans 12, where Paul sets a wonderfully high standard for our conduct in Christ.  Then read passages like Ephesians 1 and 2, celebrating the unsearchable riches of our Saviour, with whom we---the chosen and elect, trophies of the grace of the God---are seated in heavenly places.  Then read through 2 Corinthians 3, where Paul writes,

 

“We, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (3:18).

 

And then ask yourself this question: Could this same Paul, the author of these very passages, say of himself---and, by implication, of us too---“What a wretched man I am!”  How could this be?  And how could he end his discourse by simply resolving to be a slave to God’s law in his mind while being a slave to the law of sin in his flesh?  As the influential New Testament scholar C. H. Dodd commented, “It would stultify [Paul’s] whole argument if he now confessed that, at the moment of writing, he was a ‘miserable wretch, a prisoner of sin’s law.’”

          It is for reasons such as these that the early Greek Church fathers, along with respected leaders through the centuries, interpreted the entire passage with reference to Paul’s life before meeting the Messiah.  But does this really solve all the problems in the text?  If Paul was speaking only of his pre-conversion life, why does he move to the present tense, stay in the present tense, end in the present tense, and speak in such passionate personal terms?  It is for reasons such as these that the Reformers, along with many modern commentators, generally interpreted the passage with reference to Paul’s post-conversion experience.

          Either way, there are problems to face, but, to be Scripturaly sound, we must admit that the problems we encounter when we interpret Romans 7 with reference to Paul’s ongoing experience as a believer are insurmountable.  It is simply impossible to think of Paul totally contradicting all his other writings---especially those in the immediate, surrounding context---and denying the overall, consistent, clear testimony of the Word.  Perish the thought!

          On the other hand, it seems inaccurate to say that Paul spoke only of his past life, although some of the verses could well refer to that.  On the other hand, it is impossible to believe that Paul spoke as a perpetually defeated (and that means disobedient) believer, resigned to being a slave to sin in this life.

          So, if you want to believe that we will never have a struggle with sin, basing yourself on the “pre-conversion” reading of Romans 7, you’ll have problems to face, both with the biblical text and with your own life.  But if you use the “post-conversion” reading of Romans 7 as an excuse for consistent sin in your life, you’ll find yourself facing God’s rebuke.  The Word is against you!

         

“Well,” you ask, “are there any other possible interpretations to the chapter?”  Of course!  In fact, there are many.  But here are just two insights to the chapter that may help clarify things:

1.   Paul writes as a victorious believer still aware of our never-ending battle as long as we live in this world, and he expresses himself as one who knows the heat of the battle.  A similar sentiment is reflected in verses such as Galatians 5:17: “For the sinful nature [flesh] desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature [flesh].  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

          Yes, there is an ongoing battle, but, as Paul continues to explain to the Galatians in chapter 5, believers have now crucified their sinful tendencies through the Cross.  So, you might think of the non-believer as a jet plane that is stuck on the runway and cannot fly, whereas the believer is a jet plane in flight, but fighting turbulence and needing a good pilot in order to get to the destination.  Sometimes there is a mighty buffeting, but the plane doesn’t come down!  [I like the B-17 analogy better, editor.] 

2.           Paul speaks of the unwinnable battle with the fleshly sinful nature, a nature that will never change in this life (see Romans 7:25).  To the extent that we continue to allow ourselves to live under the influence of this nature, and to the extent that we seek to fight the flesh by the Law and not by the Spirit, we will be engaged in a war that we cannot win---and it will be a hellish war.

The wonderful revelation is that, through Jesus, we are delivered from the power of that nature!  This is the great theme of Romans 8 [and 6], where the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Jesus sets us free from the law of sin and death.

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.

          And so He condemned sin in the sinful man, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit” (Rom 8:1-4 [NIV]). 

 

          Paul continues to expand on this in the following verses, calling believers to set their minds on what the Spirit desires, resulting in life and peace, in contrast with fleshly people who have their minds set on what the sinful nature desires, resulting in death (vs. 5,6).  Yes, “the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (vv. 7,8).

          Once again, we see how utterly impossible it is to think that Paul could have just described himself as controlled by the sinful nature---and consequently “hostile to God.”  Never!  Instead, he affirms to the Romans [8], “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you” (v.9).  Glory!

          Yes---

 

“If Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

          Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation---but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.  For if you live according to the sinful nature [flesh], you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:10, 12-14).

 

          Praise be to God, we are led by the Spirit---led to put to death the misdeeds of the body, led to live in holy obedience to the Master, led to do the will of God.

          Is there a battle in the flesh?  You bet!  But we have been given victory in Jesus over the flesh!  Will we experience conflicts and difficulties in this world?  Absolutely (see John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Cor. 6:6-10).  But we are overcomers, by life or by death (see Rom. 8:35-39; 2 Cor. 2:14; 1 John 2:13; 4:4; 5:4).  Being defeated by the devil and bound by the flesh are not the expected norm.  We are not slaves; we are free (see 1 Pet. 2:16)! 

          So stand fast in your freedom, and rather than looking to Romans 7 as an excuse for sinful living, read everything Paul wrote in Romans 6-8, and recognize that while the battle in the flesh can rage, we are no longer controlled by the flesh but rather by the Spirit.  And the Spirit-filled, Spirit-led, Spirit-empowered life is glorious.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of it!  [Appendix, WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 7, pp. 267-283, from the book “Go and Sin No More”, © Copyright 1999 by Michael L. Brown, all rights reserved.] 

 

 

What others have had to say about “Go and Sin No More”:

 

“Go and Sin No More is a masterful book on an unpopular subject.  Speaking as one who has and is experiencing a revival of cleansing and deliverance, Michael Brown brings to the table a rich resource for all who seek a biblical view of sin and its absolute consequences to the believer’s soul.”

 

Frank Damazio

Senior Pastor,

City Bible Church,

Portland, Oregon

 

“Michael Brown has ministered effectively in our midst with a candor that challenges us out of our comfort zones.  His expose on “missing the mark” will help put sin where it belongs in your life---behind you!”

 

Che’ Ahn

President, HARVEST INTERNATIONAL MINISTRIES (HIM)

Senior Pastor, HARVEST ROCK CHURCH

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA

 

 Go and Sin No More is a magnificent, comprehensive work on the important but oft-neglected subject of holiness.  Dr. Michael L. Brown’s wonderful insights make this one of those rare life-changing books.  Every Christian who reads it will be blessed and will never be the same.  I believe it is God’s message for this hour.” 

 

The late Dr. Bill Bright,

Founder and former President

Campus Crusade for Christ International.

 

“Go and Sin No More” has, sadly, gone out of print.  You might try looking on http://www.amazon.com under the category of a used book, which a few are available, but it’s going to cost you. 

 

To ask Dr. Brown why his book has gone out of print, you can contact him at http://www.askdrbrown.org  Who knows, if he gets enough queries, he may put it back in print.  I sent him a suggestion that he make it available for free as a pdf file, and got a somewhat favorable response from his staff.  So sending in that suggestion may bear fruit as well.  Worth a try, to gain access to such a fine book.

 

 

[For similar studies that covers what Romans 7 through 8 covers log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/whatisgrace/whatisgraceintro.htm .]

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